Re: local/distributed vs global/unified archives

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 07:43:30 +0000

Sandy Thatcher points out, from his forty-odd years of
experience of scientific publishing, the importance of
copy-editing. I too was a scientific copy-editor forty
years ago. I recall that even then, long before
electronic publishing or open access had been heard of,
copy-editing was controversial. Many authors regarded our
work as editorial nit-picking. Within the office in which
I worked, one of the the copy-editors believed in a 'light
touch', and got through many manuscripts per day, while
another, my own mentor Dr John Killip, believed that a
thorough effort to help the authors by clarifying their
meaning was essential. I tended to follow Killip's path,
but a sceptical part of me wondered whether so great an
effort was really needed considering how few people would,
in truth, read each paper. In recent years I have been
teaching copy-editing skills to students of publishing,
and I still believe that these skills are needed within
the publishing process. Critics complain of falling
standards of copy-editing throughout publishing, not just
in the scholarly publishing area. My own conclusion now is
that, for scholarly material, the 'light touch' is
probably justified, and the key questions have to be: Is
the meaning clear to another specialist in the same field?
Are there are any actual inconsistencies or errors that
the referees have not spotted? Beyond this level, I
think copy-editing becomes a 'nice-to-have' rather than an

Fytton Rowland, recently retired from Loughborough
University, UK.
Received on Thu Mar 13 2008 - 12:22:44 GMT

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